Proportion of EU workers in hospitality sector at lowest level in years

Hotel female housekeeping worker with linen

The proportion of sector workers from the EU is at its lowest level since 2016, according to new data from Fourth.

The research also shows that the number of British workers in hospitality has risen substantially over the past two and a half years.

The data, aggregated from the analysis of more than 700 companies across the restaurant, pub, bar and QSR sectors, reveals that EU workers made up 37% of the hospitality workforce in June 2021, compared to 43% in June 2019, while British workers made up 51% of the workforce in June 2021, compared to 46% in June 2019.

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The total sector headcount this month is still down 13% compared to July 2020, and down 23% compared to July 2019.

According to Fourth’s data, 45% of payroll staff remain on full or flexi-furlough, the smallest proportion of workers since the scheme was introduced.

The data reveals that the proportion of EU workers has been consistently declining since the UK formally left the European Union in January 2020, which was closely followed by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic just two months later.

In June, British workers accounted for 32% of back-of-house roles and 55% of front-of-house roles, the highest proportion seen since Fourth started recording this data.

Conversely, workers from EU nations recorded the lowest proportional figures on record in the month, accounting for 52% of back-of-house roles and 36% of front-of-house roles.

The same can be said for new starters in the sector, with British workers leading the way.

Over the course of June, they accounted for almost two-thirds (63%) of all new hires across the sector, again the highest figure on record, while EU nationals made up just a quarter (28%) of new hires – a significant reduction since January 2019 (50% of new starters).

Workers from non-EU nations made up 10% of new hires, a figure that has remained relatively steady since 2019.

Sebastien Sepierre, managing director, EMEA, Fourth, said: “The much-publicised staffing crisis is proving hugely challenging for operators, as a consequence of a clear shrinking of the labour pool, in back-of-house roles in particular. It remains unclear how long this disruption might last and how it will be resolved in the months ahead during the long road to recovery.”

Zoe Monk

The author Zoe Monk

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